Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Galapagos Islands - Day 6

Sunrise over the islands
It’s generally hard waking up at 5am, but it sucks even more when you know you’re waking up to leave somewhere like the Galapagos islands, although we were looking forward to seeing the sunrise over the islands.  We were really surprised to be served a full breakfast at 5.30am, none of us really felt like food at that hour, but we didn’t want to offend the crew who had all been fantastic the whole tour so we ate up like good children do.

The sunrise didn’t disappoint as we motored towards our transfer taxi that would take us the 2 hours to Santa Cruz where we would catch our flight.   As we predicted the guy driving the boat had no idea we were coming and since we didn’t have a receipt it took a lot of convincing and a few phone calls before he finally accepted that we had paid for our transfer.  We’d had quite a discussion the night before with the Steffo’s about our “guide” Chimarro, and we’d collectively decided that he had really been terrible and that our experience, although fantastic, was no thanks to him, so when he gave us the envelopes for tips we put $1 in his envelope and much more in for the crew, who had been the best part and really made our trip an excellent experience.
Lonesome George

The boat was overly full so it wasn’t a particularly comfortable 2 hour ride, but when a pod of dolphins came and played in our wake it did spruce things up a bit!  The ride also took longer than expected so as soon as we docked the Steffo’s had to run to catch their flight, so it was a quick farewell.

Giant tortoise - notice the raised shell as he's
adapted to reach high vegetation

Fortunately we had 2 more hours before ours, and the owner of the tour company met us on the dock (Gatto – his nickname in Spanish as he has eyes like a cat!) and he was more than happy to drive us to the Darwin Centre so we could finally see the famous ‘Lonesome George’ and the other great animals they have there.  The baby tortoises were very cute, especially one poor one that was stuck on his side and doing turns trying to flip back over (he did manage in the end after his friend came and gave him a nudge!!). They all look like little racing cars because they have a number painted on their shells to indicate what breed they were…

From there we drove to the ferry, took the ferry than the bus to the airport (the whole time hoping in vain for one last sighting of the illusive blue footed boobies that we still wanted to photograph, but who never showed up).  In just over 2 hours we were back in Guayaquil with only the 1000’s of photos and bucket-load of good memories as proof that we’d been to such a fantastic place.

Overall, the experience on board the Valkeria was great, with an amazing crew – however, we would very strongly recommend that you check what guide you have, and avoid ours! (He is a freelance guide so he may not work with the company again).

We checked into our hostel the ‘Nuca Pacha’ which was a slight improvement on our last one in Guayaquil, and set out to do the most pressing thing after a trip – find a laundry mat! Back to reality….

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